Good morning all, I hope this finds you well. Please see this weeks Sunday service below and I will, as usual, post the print version on my Facebook page for those of you who copy it and pass it on.
I hope you can make the time to find a quiet spot and relax, close your eyes and listen to the service, and I hope you will find some words of comfort for these difficult times. God bless and keep safe.
Good morning all, How are you today? Are you coping with the renewed restrictions or are you struggling with the prolonged lockdown ? It’s certainly not an easy time but I think that keeping our minds busy is one way of dealing with it all. Reading, writing letters, taking up an interest or learning a new skill can all pass the time rather that watching the clock as the hours drag by.
For some, lockdown is a pain, whereas for others it is bliss, a time to chill and read a book, do the things you never seem to have to do under normal circumstances.
I suppose it’s a matter of perspective.
I heard a story about 2 lorry drivers who were asked about their jobs. One said “It’s so boring, I just drive around delivering boxes to people I don’t know” and the other driver said “It’s a great job! I get paid to drive around the bonny countryside, meeting lots of lovely people, I wouldn’t do anything else!”.
Two people, same conditions, different way of thinking…
Next Sunday is the 1st Sunday in Advent – the first day of the new Christian Year – that period which leads up to Christmas. And for Christians it’s a time of preparation as we think about the coming of that wee baby boy – God’s own Son – who entered the world with the cry of a baby and was to change the world forever.
And so today is the last Sunday of the Christian calendar – is what is called “Christ the King” day.
But before we get on to thinking about that let’s join together in prayer ~
Holy, Heavenly Father of all mankind, your are our great and glorious God, maker of Heaven and Earth, the one who offers us more than we could ever imagine – or deserve. We bring you our Praise and our gratitude.
We pray that you will forgive our faults and our failings as we make our way through life, doing and saying things we later regret. Give us a sensitive heart and mind so that we might be aware of those who are struggling or suffering things which we may know nothing about.
Bless those who are in any form of need, may they know your loving presence and strength on which they can draw in troubled times.
We pray for the lost and the lonely, the hurt and the hungry, the sick and the suffering, the homeless and those for whom happiness is a distant memory.
Bless them Father, remind them of your many promises and blessings which you give and guarantee to those who listen for your voice and follow your way.
Lord we know that you hear us when we pray to you in faith – so hear us now as we say together – the prayer which brings us together as one family – the family prayer – the lord’s prayer ~
Our Father.. Who art in heaven.. Hallowed be thy name.. Thy kingdom come.. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven….. Give us this day our daily bread.. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.. Lead us not into temptation.. But deliver us from evil .. For thine is the kingdom.. The power and the glory forever…. Amen.
In our reading this morning – we hear the voice of a King, a King with a crown of thorns, as He exchanges words with Pilate the Roman Governor.
This King has a voice which has a quiet yet powerful authority about it – a strength that unsettles Pilate –
Let’s hear it for ourselves…
Our Reading is ~
John 18 : 28 – 37 – New Living Translation
Listen to the word of God ~
Jesus’ Trial before Pilate
28 Jesus’ trial before Caiaphas ended in the early hours of the morning. Then he was taken to the headquarters of the Roman governor.[a] His accusers didn’t go inside because it would defile them, and they wouldn’t be allowed to celebrate the Passover. 29 So Pilate, the governor, went out to them and asked, “What is your charge against this man?”
30 “We wouldn’t have handed him over to you if he weren’t a criminal!” they retorted.
31 “Then take him away and judge him by your own law,” Pilate told them.
“Only the Romans are permitted to execute someone,” the Jewish leaders replied. 32 (This fulfilled Jesus’ prediction about the way he would die.[b])
33 Then Pilate went back into his headquarters and called for Jesus to be brought to him. “Are you the king of the Jews?” he asked him.
34 Jesus replied, “Is this your own question, or did others tell you about me?”
35 “I’m not a Jew!” Pilate retorted. “Your own people and their leading priests brought you to me for trial. Why? What have you done?”
36 Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.”
37 Pilate said, “So you are a king?”
Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.”
This is the Word of the Lord – thanks be to God
Are you what they call a “techie”? Someone who is up to all the latest technology?
I just found out the other day that I can send a text by simply speaking in to my phone!
It’s called ‘voice recognition’ and you simply speak into the phone or computer – and it will automatically type whatever you say to it !!
I suppose it’s a kind of ‘voice – text’ which is a bit of an oxymoron!
For me it’s “high Tech” but I suppose it’s not such a new concept – there are security systems and other such “James Bond” technology which works on the same principle of ‘voice recognition’. – but it’s clever stuff though, isn’t it !
But, you know, we engage in ‘voice recognition’ every day.
When a friend phones us – we don’t have to say “who are you again ?” – we know who they are – because we recognise their voice.
God had been ‘voice activating’ – since the dawn of time!
The very first words in the Bible are -“in the beginning” and we hear how God created the world –
He simply spoke and the world came into being.
There was a power in His voice.
No prototypes – or plastic models given life with magic words as if from some Harry Potter story.
God spoke – and things happened.
Strong and authoritative.
Yet – also creative and loving and tender..
His son Jesus also spoke with authority too – a strong and power-filled authority – but He also spoke in love and tenderness.
God’s voice spoke the world into life – Jesus’ words speak us into new life.
Just as there was a creating power in God’s voice “in the beginning” – so there is a life-giving power in the voice of Jesus – as He heals and gives new life.
Like when He healed the blind and the lame – when He brought Lazarus back to life and performed his many other miracles – it was His voice which had the authority – God’s authority – to heal and to bless.
Do you remember the story when Jesus cast out demons from a possessed man – “come out” Jesus said “and the demons came out – the Bible tells us – “because they knew his voice”.
Have you ever heard the voice of God ? Have you ever heard the voice of Jesus ? Some say they have.
Moses heard God’s voice from the Burning Bush.
God spoke to Solomon and told him to build a Temple.
And throughout the centuries many people have heard God speaking to them.
Indeed, a good friend of mine said that a number of years ago – while working as a nurse – she was part of a conversation where someone had said that they were going to give up their job and go into the ministry – and she quite clearly heard a voice which said “and that’s what you must do!” – and when she looked round there was no-one else there – but clear as day she had heard a voice with an air of authority – calling her into his service.
And I’ve know her since we were in Uni – and she is not one prone to ‘hearing voices’..
Many people hear God speaking to them in different ways.
It may not be a firm clear voice, such as my friend heard – it may be a feeling – a wee voice of conscience – it may be through events which lead you to be sure that it’s what God wants of you.
God speaks to you – to me in many ways – but do we take time to hear him ?
But what does He sound like – I wonder. Strong and powerful – or gentle and tender ?? – probably both.
When He commands – He doesn’t always ask politely – “I command you to love one another” He says to us – and you get the feeling that he isn’t just asking us nicely.
No – ‘if you don’t mind and if it suits you’ – but rather – “you must love one another as I love you!” – confident and commanding – but there’s still love and care in His words.
When kings speak – people listen – when kings decree – things happen, so it is with Jesus.
But he was a different kind of King – with a very different kind of kingdom ! The ‘Kingdom of God’!
No violent ‘ruling with an iron fist’ – no ‘brutal or sadistic regime’ which held the people in fear –
Jesus brings us into His Kingdome with His love..
His kingdom is one where all will live in peace and harmony – where – as the Bible tells us “the wolf and the lamb – (the strong and the meek) – will live together in peace – where the snake and the child – (the slippery and the innocent) will live in harmony” in the Kingdom of eternal life – the Kingdom which is for all who ‘listen for the voice of God – and act upon it’.
Voices are so powerful – they can start wars – or mend a broken heart.
They can cause wounds deeper than any sword – or they can comfort and heal.
They can deceive and lie – or they can be trustworthy and truthful.
We must be careful about the words we use.
In our N.T. reading we heard the voice of worldly authority– the Roman Governor Pilate – asking Jesus in verse 33 – “are you the king of the Jews ?” – we can almost hear the contempt in his voice as he looked at this bearded and disheveled prisoner who stood before him.
But instead of rising to the bait – or pleading for his life – Jesus calmly and cool-ly turns the tables on Pilate – suddenly it’s Pilate who is on trial – as Jesus answered Pilate’s question with a question of his own – “Did you think of that all on your own ?” He said “or is that just something you have heard from others !” – His voice portraying a serene and self assured confidence.
Well – He is a King after all !!
“My Kingdom” he says to Pilate – “is very different from any other kingdom you’ve ever heard of before”.
And then we hear a hint of derision in Pilate’s voice when he thinks he’s caught Jesus out – “aha ! So you are admitting to being a king after all !” And we can imagine Pilate looking smugly around the court as if to say – “you need to get up pretty early in the morning to get one over on me !”
Little did he know who was really in control of this false, mockery of a trial.
Jesus – King of heaven – King of truth.
Jesus is a ‘truth speaker’ – “I am the truth” He had said earlier – and that makes those who listen for His voice – ‘truth hearers’ –
Jesus said in the last verse of our N.T.reading –
“everyone who is on the side of truth – listens to me.”
Jesus talks the truth – Jesus is the truth – and those who listen for His voice – hear the truth.
But how many of us are “truth hearers” ?
How many of us take the time needed each day to read His words and listen for His voice?
Yes, we might spend time in prayer – and that’s good – but how often do we just sit – open – silent – at peace – listening for God to speak to us ? Are we too busy talking, with a list of requests – planning what we’re going to say next – to hear God’s voice?
That was Pilate’s trouble – he was too busy with is own agenda to hear that Jesus was telling him the truth – He really is a King ! – and He really has a Kingdom !!
But it all went over Pilate’s head – because he may well have been hearing – but he certainly wasn’t listening what Jesus was saying to him.
Many in the word do the same – too busy, too ‘otherwise engaged’ to stop, take time and listen for God’s voice, God’s word.
And so they miss out on hearing His gentle words of encouragement, comfort, inner peace and reassurance that we all need to hear.
I hope pray that you will take time – make time, to listen for God’s voice each day – and come to know all these things for yourself – and so come to know that deep, inner peace that only comes from the God of Peace – and through His son, Jesus Christ, who is the King of Peace.
That’s what I pray for you – and I pray for you in Jesus’ name.
And may God bless this preaching of His Holy word – and may all the glory and the praise – be His.
‘THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK’
I’d like to leave you with this short poem and it kind of sums up our message for today, listening to God.
It’s called ‘I asked God.’
I asked God to take away my pride.
And God said no.
He said it was not for Him to take away
But for me to give up.
I asked God to make my handicapped child whole
And God said no.
He said her spirit, is whole.
Her body is only temporary.
I asked God to give me happiness.
And God said no.
He said He gives blessings.
Happiness is up to me.
I asked God to spare me pain.
And God said no.
He said suffering draws you apart from worldly care
And brings you closer to him.
I asked God to make my spirit grow
And he said no.
He said I must learn to grow on my own, and with others
And only then will I understand and so grow in His way.
Then I asked God to teach me how to live and grow in HIS way,
“Listen to my voice – hear my words” He said – “learn to love others as much as I love you.”
“Ahh, at last – I finally have the idea!”
Are YOU taking time, making time to listen for that still small voice that guides you along life’s journey?
God is speaking to you – aye, but are you listening?
Food for thought for us all.
Let us go out in love – joy and peace –
And may the love of Jesus go before you –
the Lord almighty watch over you –
and the Holy Spirit go with you – guiding and protecting you in all you do
And may the blessing of Almighty God – Father – Son – and Holy Spirit – be with you all – be with your families, friends, those you know and love and ought to love – this day – and every day.
Take care and May God Bless you
And your loved ones.
Have good week – and Please – keep safe
Be sure and look out for the Midweek ‘Meditation’ which is Posted every Wednesday Morning.
And can I remind those of you who aren’t too far away from Kilmacolm, that our Murray Chapel is currently opened for a time of personal Peace and Prayer, each day from Monday to Saturday from 11am – 1pm.
“Be still and know that I am God”
Psalm 46 : 10